New LEP concerns council

A NEW draft planning framework for the future of the city has been endorsed, albeit somewhat reluctantly, by the Coffs Harbour City Council.

During discussions on the draft Coffs Harbour City Standard Local Environmental Plan (LEP) at Thursday night’s meeting it became obvious that few Councillors are happy with the State Government’s strategy to standardise the planning system.

Cr Jenny Bonfield best summed up her colleagues concerns about the document which essentially addresses zonings and plans of management. “I am very worried about this LEP,” Cr Bonfield said.

“This standardising of zones doesn’t make sense. How for example can a coastal city have the same zonings as an inland town?” she said.

“I’m also concerned that when we work out that something is wrong we won’t have the capacity to change the zonings. This is not the fault of our council staff but I do think the ‘one size fits all’ approach puts the cart before the horse.”

“I don’t believe this LEP is flexible enough. It has a long way to go before it gives confidence and surety to people who come to the area.”

The mayor, Cr Keith Rhoades, said all the State’s 152 councils were worried that the standardisation of LEPs won’t deliver the outcomes needed by them.

In response to an inquiry by Cr Rodney Degens whether the Standard LEP will make housing more affordable the mayor was unequivocal.

“The capping of Section 94 contributions which are part of the Standard Instrument LEPs is already having a huge impact,” Cr Rhoades said.

“Developers won’t pass the savings on to buyers so homes won’t be cheaper. It is a shambles really that it is costing councils across the State $1 billion.”

Cr Mark Graham also expressed his doubts about the limitations of the new LEP. “I’ve read it and think the staff have done a great job,” Cr Graham said. “We can anticipate a rocky road ahead with this and there is room for improvement but it is an acceptable document.

“Flooding is the biggest problem facing this city and so I think it is critically important that we make some additions to the recommendations before us and send a message to State Government authorities.”

His amendments were that the LEP incorporates and acts upon the outcomes of the 2030 process and plan and that the proposed land use zonings do not exacerbate flooding.

Cr Graham’s amendments were adopted unanimously

The LEP will now be forwarded the Department of Planning for certification, so that the plan can be exhibited for public comment.

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